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Harding Lemay (born March 16, 1922) is an American screenwriter and playwright. Born near the Mohawk Indian reservation in North Bangor, New York, where his mother grew up, he ran away to New York City at age 17, where he has lived ever since.
Sometimes credited as Pete Lemay, he is best known for his stint as head writer of the soap opera Another World, from 1971 to 1979. Many family situations and characters were modeled after his own family, such as the Frame brothers and sisters.
He was credited with ratings surges that pushed viewing figures to ten million households, as well as material that earned the series a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 1976. It was his writing that made the characters of Mac Cory (played by Douglass Watson), Rachel Cory Hutchins (Victoria Wyndham), and Iris Cory Carrington (Beverlee McKinsey) household names. However, by 1979, Lemay decided not to continue writing the series for a ninth straight calendar year, and first handed over the reins to a new writer before exiting for good later that year. He also engendered some criticism for writing out three of the show's most popular actors George Reinholt (Steve Frame), Jacqueline Courtney (Alice Matthews Frame), and Virginia Dwyer (Mary Matthews), in 1975.
One of his reasons for leaving was that, first and foremost, writing a serial that aired five times a week proved to be too taxing. In a 1981 interview with PBS, Lemay stated that even mundane occurrences would be ruled by his job. "If I saw a nice dress in the window, my first thought wouldn't be that it would be a nice gift for my wife. I would think, 'That dress would look great on Pat," Pat Randolph being a character on Another World.
Another reason for his exit was that the sponsor of the show, Procter & Gamble Productions Inc., refused to allow Lemay to write controversial storylines. In the late 1970s, Lemay asked the sponsor for clearance on a storyline he was writing, in which the teenage son of a very prominent character was to be revealed as homosexual. According to Lemay, he had already written the story, ostensibly with the sponsor's support, until he was asked to pull the story mere days before the scenes were to be taped. Lemay's 1981 memoir, Eight Years In Another World, indicates that the same-sex story centered around Michael Randolph (Lionel Johnston), son of Pat Matthews Randolph (Beverly Penberthy) and John Randolph (Michael M. Ryan).
Procter & Gamble's animosity toward Lemay softened, and he was even asked to return as head writer of Another World in 1988. The plan was for Lemay to begin writing the show again after the end of the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike, which lasted from March to September, during which time Donna Swajeski was responsible for the storytelling. Swajeski had previously worked for the programming division at NBC, the network that aired Another World, but after writing the show for six months, she wanted to continue writing the series on a full-time basis. When the strike finally ended and Lemay began work as planned, Swajeski and Lemay clashed over Another World's direction, and Lemay abruptly quit after writing for only a few weeks. His storyline choices, however, such as the glamorous wedding of Felicia Gallant (Linda Dano) to Mitch Blake (William Gray Espy), and the return of Mac Cory's daughter Iris (Carmen Duncan) set the stage for engrossing story in the years to come.
With Lemay completely gone from AW, Swajeski became head writer, a position she held until 1992. It has been argued that much of her critically acclaimed storylines came from Lemay's storyline projections.
Lemay is also a successful playwright, whose works have been produced both off-Broadway and on Broadway. He was also a friend and mentor to Douglas Marland, who served as his subwriter on Another World and later became one of daytime's most prolific writers, serving as head writer for Guiding Light, General Hospital and As the World Turns.
Lemay on rules of writing: "I don't have any. I know Doug was rather rigid about a lot of things. I trained Doug actually. Very interesting writer. There was a very very dark underside to all his writing. Good characters though. I think everything you write creates its own rules. Whether it's a play or a book or a script. Every situation you write creates its own rules and that rule is the truth of the situation. You can't have rigid rules. Because you lock yourself into a dramatic box. And it doesn't work. And that was one of Doug's problems as a writer. The people who wrote with him would often be confronted with Doug's rigid idea of what was right and what was not right. My attitude was, 'Try it, see if it works.'"
- Story Consultant (1995–1997)
- Head writer (1971–1979; 1988)
- Story Consultant
- Head writer (1981–1982)
- Consultant (1995)
- Writer (1980-1981)
Lovers and Friends/For Richer, For Poorer
- Head writer (1977)
- Story Consultant (1998–1999)
Awards and nominations
- (1975; Best Writing; Another World)
- (1981; Best Writing; Guiding Light)
- (1977 & 1996; Best Writing; Another World)
|head writer of Another World
August 1971-May 11, 1979
Aaron Scott & Anne Marie Barlow
|Head writer of The Doctors
(with Stephen Lemay)
Donna Swajeski (de facto)
|Head writer of Another World
September 12, 1988-November 10, 1988
- Inness, Sherrie A. (2003). Disco divas: women and popular culture in the 1970s. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 122–. ISBN 978-0-8122-1841-1. Retrieved 27 May 2011.